According to the report, Border Barriers: SMEs’ experience with cross-border trade, released by the Canadian Federation for Independent Business, the number one obstacle in cross-border trade for smaller companies on both sides of the border relates to the complexity of the process and its related paperwork. The common thread in the problems faced by small business is the varying requirements of government agencies and complicated rules and regulations. Simple measures can help address some of these issues, such as:
- Providing information in plain language
- Making information sources readily accessible and easy to find
- Providing contact information (email/telephone) to respond to questions
- Creating a one-stop web portal with trade and border information specific to SMEs
As both Canada and the U.S. have a strong entrepreneurial presence with SMEs accounting for half the GDP, more than half of employment and the bulk of net new jobs, this research offers ways to encourage cross-border trade. Focusing on small-business friendly policies, making an extra effort to provide information and services geared to small business’ unique needs, and creating a culture of service and understanding of small business challenges within the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may help to encourage more small firms to take the plunge and start looking to other markets to grow and expand their business.